HELENA, Ala. (WIAT) — At least one person was killed and five were injured after a petroleum gas line exploded in Shelby County near Helena, according to WIAT.
Four victims were transported by LifeFlight helicopter to the University of Alabama at Birmingham hospital.
The fire is from a petroleum line, which was shut down after the explosion Monday, that belongs to Colonial and is the same line that leaked in September, causing severe gas shortages in North Carolina and other southeastern states.
“Think and take conservation measures to prepare,” Jim Groves, the Durham County, N.C. Emergency Management Director, tweeted on Monday night.
Gasoline price futures were up Monday evening by as much as 15 percent after the explosion, which burned itself out by 11 p.m., according to a report by Reuters.
Just before 9 p.m., the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office announced that the situation had been contained as of 7:30 p.m. Emergency personnel will remain on scene to monitor the situation, the sheriff’s office said.
“It appears to have been an accident, and they’re allowing fuel to burn,” Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said in a statement. “It’s about one mile west of where the repair took place on the Colonial Pipeline just recently.”
According to Helena Mayor Mark Hall, Colonial Pipeline crews were working on the line that exploded.
Colonial posted a statement on its website:
Colonial has shut down its mainlines in Shelby County, Ala., after reports of a fire on its right of way. Colonial personnel and emergency crews responded.
Colonial’s top priorities are the health and safety of the work crew on site and protection of the public.
The company released a statement Monday night saying in part, “Our deepest condolences go out tonight to the family and friends of the person who was lost today, and our thoughts and prayers are with those who were injured.”
In September, the Colonial Pipeline leaked thousands of gallons of gas southwest of Birmingham near Helena and led to dry fuel pumps in several Southern states — for days, in some cases. There was no immediate indication Thursday whether or not Monday’s explosion will lead to similar shortages.
North Carolina officials are watching the situation.
“Gov. McCrory and emergency management officials are monitoring the situation closely for any impact on North Carolina and are prepared to take action as necessary,” said Graham H. Wilson, the governor’s press secretary.
While it wasn’t immediately clear whether the explosion would impede the flow of fuel to North Carolina, Tiffany Wright of AAA of the Carolinas said that if there is a disruption to the fuel flow similar to September’s, consumer can expect the price and availability of fuel to be affected again as well.
And the news of such a disruption, she said, would be enough to change the gas buying habits of drivers who worry that, if their area isn’t affected yet, it might be soon.
“It’s a knee-jerk reaction,” she said. “Everybody gets nervous.”
Wright emphasized that she doesn’t know whether or not the flow of fuel will be affected by the explosion.
Sheetz spokesman Bill Mayer said it’s still to early to tell if supply to the company’s North Carolina gas stations will be disrupted.
“Hopefully the pipeline will be repaired soon and our current supply will suffice until the problem is resolved,” he wrote in an email. “I don’t have the details of the accident as it appears to still be happening as we communicate now. Our prayers go out to the families of those hurt or killed in the accident in Alabama.”
The explosion took place near 334 Highway 13.
A number of different fire and law enforcement agencies helped with the official response to the blast.
Captain Jeff Hartley with Shelby County Sheriff’s Office is advising people to stay away from Highway 13 and the River Road Area. Hartley has stated that the first priority for the roads is to bring out first responders to the area.